How can we feel more unbridled joy in life? The kind of joy kids experience when playing together. Or that intense happiness that comes from seeing our baby or grandbaby for the first time. The breathtaking awe of nature that may catch us by surprise like a rainbow. Sitting by a warm, crackling fireplace enjoying a hot drink. Indulging in a passionate hobby. Whatever way we uniquely experience joy, we can all agree that it passes too quickly. What if by opening our eyes and hearts to the abundance around us, we could find more joy? One way to do this is by being grateful. It’s not always easy though.
Challenges to Our Gratitude
With any practice that we begin, more than likely, we’ll experience obstacles to its success. Recognizing these potential blocks to our gratitude when they come up, can help. Here are three:
1. Focusing on what’s wrong or lacking
We tend to focus on what’s wrong rather than on what’s right. But the beauty of gratitude is that it’s an effective tool for turning the negative into the positive. For example, when you wake up in the morning, do you start running through your to do list? You may even feel overwhelmed and discouraged by all the chores and obligations. Instead, think about all the blessings in your life. Now you’ll start the day on top of the world instead of the world being on top of you.
2. Losing the Luster
Dr. David Brandt in his book, Is That All There Is?: Balancing Expectation and Disappointment in Your Life, writes about how we lose our enthusiasm for things that once excited us: “Human beings have a curious capacity to take things for granted. The most exquisite diamond loses its luster with familiarity. The most compatible intimate becomes boring. Miracles like the daily sunrise fail to astonish because they’re commonplace! Repetition and time dull our sense of wonder.”
Notice that when you first see the ocean at the beach or the forest on a hike that after a while the magic goes. Recognizing, though, that we can linger longer at the beauty of nature, on our child’s happy face, or on the smell of our favorite food, helps us connect more deeply with our experience of the world.
3. Difficult times
You may be without a job, have an illness or are facing a difficult time in your life. When going through tough times, it’s harder to see the good that exists amidst our troubles. But by being more grateful for what we do have, we can increase our happiness by 25% according to University of California Psychology Professor Dr. Robert Emmons and author of the book, Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
In bad times, look for an opportunity that may exist, yet may not be so obvious. For example, a job loss can present all kinds of fears. Perhaps though it’s time to change life’s direction and look for work that is more suited to your talents and passions. Even the bad experiences, can lead to something good, maybe not right away, but overtime.
Creating More Joy
Now that we’ve explored a few challenges to our gratitude, here are some ways to help create those intensely happy moments we can all use more of:
- Notice the pleasures around you – Think about the people and things that you may not be appreciating. A job, spouse or friend? A warm bed, hot shower, the miracle of breathing? The benefit of not taking things for granted is that it pulls you into the moment. You become present and feel more alive.
- Show your gratitude – This can create a joyful moment for you and the person receiving your gratitude. You can write someone a gratitude letter, or simply say thank you in person – for their friendship, their love, helping you with a big project, etc. This week make it a point of doing one of these things and see how good you feel afterward.
- Nurture your gratitude – To amplify gratitude in your life, you can start a gratitude journal, create gratitude affirmations, post gratitude quotes, and even complain less. Vow to choose a gratitude practice that you can do daily.
- Celebrate your potential – We all have talents and skills that are unique to us. We seldom think about them. Instead, we think about how we can’t do something. Focus on your gifts and, if you’re not using them, think about ways you can. This will surely bring more joy to your life.
With these few practices above, you’ll begin to notice that you’ll experience more joy, peace and contentment in life.
What are you grateful for in this moment? Let’s share some gratitude by commenting below.